I have posted some thoughts about whether I am a Lutheran, over on The Thinklings blog here. I have just finished reading Martin Marty's short biography of Martin Luther (in the "Penguin Lives" series), and I am left with some serious questions. (I am also left with enormous dissatisfaction with the book: I learned nothing about Martin Luther the person, and I learned very little new at all. Even given that the audience is presumed to be relatively uninitiated into the Reformation reality, I think this doesn't do a very good job of it.)
At base, I question whether Luther and his heirs spent and spend way too much time proclaiming "salvation" and way too little time fleshing that out with answers to such questions as "So what?", "What's that got to do with the way I live my life?", "Do I have to obey the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount?"
My good friend Rob helped "facilitate" my freedom to say what I have been implying for a long time: I don't doubt the good news that God has saved me; I believe and rely on that assurance. That is not my concern.
Such questions as I raise above are my questions. And I have such questions because I read the New Testament to say much more than that "salvation" is a kind of self-protection for eternity. It speaks about the nationhood of the people of God (1 Peter); it speaks constantly about the corporate nature of "salvation"; it embraces all of creation in its visions of the End Times. In this it echoes the Old Testament discussions of salvation. And it sets the Church up as a kind of Chosen People in parallel with Israel (old meaning)/Judaism.
That such a proclamation will have ethical implications seems both natural and revealed. And Lutheranism's claims to have rediscovered the Gospel for the Church should be aware of that. But I don't see very much evidence that it is. Luther was obsessed with his own salvation. He eventually "heard" von Staupitz (why aren't there more works by and about him available from Amazon.com?), but it seems from Marty's biography, especially, that he never really "heard" him -- i.e., he didn't take the Vicar General's counsel to heart.
(Frankly, I think it tragic that he didn't have available to him a good anti-depressant; that would have helped smooth out some of his crises and may have helped him see through to the wider dimensions. Get that: I'm presuming both to diagnose Luther's depression and to suggest that I see things in better perspective than he. I don't deny the charge; but I do recognize the hubris in so writing -- but then I take Luther as my rhetorical model.)
In any event, you can check out my musings over at The Thinklings blog. Rebuke, ridicule, criticize, correct me. That's what these blog-things are all about.